Iran has signed a $16.6 billion deal for 80 Boeing passenger jets and was said to be close to another for dozens of Airbus planes to complete what would be the biggest package of firm contracts with Western companies since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution. Sonia Legg reports
Airlines were quick to see Iran as a new opportunity after Western sanctions were lifted. British Airways restarted direct flights to Tehran in September. Now it's the plane makers' turn. IranAir has signed a $16.6 billion deal for 80 Boeing passenger jets. They include 30 long-haul 777s and 50 narrow body 737 MAXs. (SOUNDBITE) (English) IG SENIOR ANALYST, CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, SAYING: "I think it shows how serious Iran is about getting back in the game. You have an improving oil price that makes the country's revenues look a lot more attractive and it is a sign perhaps that you can expect a lot more spending from Iranian companies and indeed the Iranian government itself." Airbus isn't being left out. According to an Iranian official, IranAir is close to signing a deal with the European planemaker. The first batch would be for 50 to 60 jets. It's a welcome boost for both firms. And Iran may also reap the rewards. (SOUNDBITE) (English) IG SENIOR ANALYST, CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, SAYING: "I think it should boost Iranian air travel and make Iranian airlines more competitive on a regional basis. Obviously they are not close to competing with global firms but it does mean we are perhaps looking at a more interesting sector now and that should be reflected in investor confidence in those companies should we see further purchases in the next few months." But political opposition in the States could yet threaten the Boeing deal. A bill to restrict financial transactions by U.S. banks was passed last month. Iran says it can work around that and Boeing certainly hopes so. Its order book this year has lagged behind rival Airbus. And the President-Elect hasn't helped either. Last week Donald Trump complained about the cost of new Boeing 'Air Force One' jets.